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Gilbert sprinting to victory in the road race at the 2012 UCI Road World Championships

A puncheur or puncher is a road bicycle racer who specialises in rolling terrain with short but steep climbs.[1][2][3]

Ideal races for this type of rider are the one-day spring classics. These races are characterized by multiple hills that have a 10–20% gradient and are 1–2 km long. Examples include climbs at Liège–Bastogne–Liège, the Mur de Huy in the Flèche Wallonne and the Cauberg in the Amstel Gold Race, which comprise the Ardennes classics.

Puncheurs are usually relatively well built, with broader shoulders and bigger legs than the average racing cyclist.[4] The physique of this type of rider allows them to escape from the peloton through quick bursts, sometimes with the assistance of a teammate.

Examples of such racers include Philippe Gilbert, Julian Alaphilippe, Simon Gerrans, Joaquim Rodríguez and Peter Sagan, who are able to sprint up the shorter climbs to win a stage or a single-day race. Often these racers have had a career in mountainbike racing, where there are many shorter but steep climbs. However, their lower endurance is a disadvantage in stage races where the climbs are usually longer (5–20 km), albeit at lower gradients (5–10%). In stage races they often work as domestiques for team leaders, reeling in breakaways, or go on the attack to force rival teams to expend energy to close them down.[4]


  1. ^ Copeland, Tom. 'Le Tour' "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-09. Retrieved 2013-10-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). 01JUL11
  2. ^ Cossins, Peter. 'Mental visualisation boosts Fédrigo’s potential' [1]. 30JUL10
  3. ^ Gallagher, Brendan . 'Tour de France 2010, stage two: Classics territory offers puncheurs chance to shine' [2]. The Telegraph, 05JUL10
  4. ^ a b Mahé, Louise (23 March 2015). "What type of Tour de France rider are you most like?". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 25 March 2015. Another example is Nacer Bouhanni whose not-very-passive passive-aggressive style has seen him take the term quite literally, by putting the punch into puncheur. The Cofidis rider may float like a butterfly, but stings like a gnat.